Ecology of Animal Societies
We are seeking PhD students to join the new Department for the Ecology of Animal Societies at the Max Planck Institute for Animal Behavior and the University of Konstanz. The department focuses on investigating how animal societies emerge and function by integrating behavioral field biology and modern tracking technologies with quantitative and computational approaches. Our research draws insights from diverse scientific disciplines - including the biological, physical, and social sciences - to tackle broad questions about social systems and collective behaviors.
Students will develop a research project focused on the ecology of animal societies using data-driven and/or theory-based approaches. The position is fully funded for 3.5 years, and open to students of any nationality.
Background. In social animals from protists to primates, success often depends not on the characteristics of individual organisms, but instead on what happens when groups of organisms come together and interact. How do such collective behaviors and traits arise? When and why do they vary across populations and between species? These questions are key to understanding how animal societies emerge and function.
Project Details. Students, in collaboration with department scientists, will develop research projects focused on understanding within- and/or between-species variation in social behavior or social structure. Projects may build on empirical study systems that are the focus of current departmental research or can expand our research in new directions. We are particularly interested in students with a background in quantitative data analysis or theory who are interested in applying these skills to tackle general questions about social variation and the functioning of animal societies. Start date is flexible and will be between June and October of 2020.
Supervision and Research Community. The student will join the International Max Planck Research School for Organismal Biology (IMPRS), a cooperative doctoral program between the Max Planck Institute of Animal Behavior, the Max Planck Institute for Ornithology and the University of Konstanz, and will be co-supervised by Prof. Dr. Meg Crofoot (MPI-AB, University of Konstanz), Dr. Ariana Strandburg-Peshkin (MPI-AB, University of Konstanz), Dr. Karline Janmaat (MPI-AB, University of Amsterdam) and/or other department scientists or collaborators. The University of Konstanz and the Max Planck Institute for Animal Behavior together form a thriving research community representing a global hotspot for collective behavior and animal movement research.
Qualifications. This call is open to candidates from all academic backgrounds who can articulate how their background and training prepare them to conduct their proposed research project. Ideal candidates should have a positive attitude, enthusiasm for learning, and demonstrated ability to engage in independent research. A collaborative spirit and the ability to work as part of a team are essential. A Masters degree in ecology, anthropology, computer science, physics or other relevant subject is desirable, but is not required to apply. Applicants who have not completed a Masters will be considered on a case-by-case basis by the Doctoral Committee and might be requested to complete additional course-work. The working language of the group is English, and German language skills are not a requirement.
Location. Konstanz is a vibrant small city located on the border between Germany and Switzerland, on the shores of the Bodensee (Lake Constance). It is easy to get out into the beautiful German and Swiss countryside and the Alps, as well as to neighboring Zurich and Munich.
Application Process. Applicants should apply via the IMPRS application system (due 15 January 2020), and are also required to include a CV and a research statement (see below for details).
Research Statement Instructions. Applicants should include a research statement that addresses the following points:
- Describe the research project you would like to conduct for your dissertation and explain how it relates to the focus of research in the department (1 page)
- Describe your academic background and research experience and how they relate to your proposed project (1/2 a page)
- Give an example of a time in your past education or research experience in which you faced a problem or a challenge, and describe how you addressed it (1/2 a page)
Keywords. Animal societies, social structure, behavioral variation, modeling, quantitative analysis